November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, an important time for staff of Hospice of Northwest Michigan.
This national observance offers a chance to reflect on the year’s work in the community supporting families navigating hospice and grief.
“For me, one of the most meaningful events this year was our special memorial service held at Perry Farm Village, a Senior Community in Harbor Springs,” said Jeanne Marriott, Executive Director for the Hospice of Northwest Michigan. “It was a celebration of life and commemoration, and culminated with a poignant butterfly release ceremony.” According to many cultures and traditions, butterflies can be considered powerful symbols of transformation and are said to represent souls in transition.
The August memorial service recognized that many have experienced the pain of loss and continue to journey through grief.
Through prayers, poems, and Pastor Behling’s talk, the celebration provided opportunity for the thirty-plus people gathered to remember and honor the lives of 8 residents and 1 beloved pet (Chase the dog) of Perry Farm Village who passed away in the past year.
The memorial also included the reading of the loved ones’ names, soft music and a message of healing and renewal before the entire group moved outside into Perry Farm Village’s beautiful patio and butterfly garden to release butterflies individually.
Those wishing to participate were given small boxes that they opened and then observed their butterfly awaken and rise, stretch their wings and fly off. Pastor Behling spoke of a Native American Legend that suggests that you can whisper your thoughts to a butterfly and it will fly and impart those thoughts to the Great Spirit who will pass on your wishes. As the butterflies took wing, the thoughts and prayers of the people in that garden took wing, too.
“It was a beautiful and touching gathering,” said Marriott, “One lovely resident remarked that her heart felt lighter, that the heaviness of a recent loss was lessened thanks to the memorial event.” Many in the crowd expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to commemorate together.
Perry Farm Village is a premiere senior living community packed with amenities and possibilities that is located at 4241 Village Circle, Harbor Springs, Michigan; call 231.526.1500 for a tour or information. Hospice of Northwest Michigan is a 501(c)3 non-profit, community based hospice, serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego Counties. Call (800) 551-4140 toll-free for more information on hospice services, or to learn more about how you can help.